NHRA stunner: U.S. Army to end sponsorship of Don Schumacher Racing, NHRA after this season

Photos courtesy NHRA
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In a stunning announcement, the National Hot Rod Association and Don Schumacher Racing revealed Sunday that the U.S. Army, which has been one of the sport’s largest and most high-profile primary sponsors for nearly 20 years, will end its relationship with both the sport and team after this season.

The Army has been primary sponsor for eight-time Top Fuel champ Tony Schumacher for nearly two decades, co-primary sponsor on Antron Brown’s Top Fuel dragster for nearly a decade, and became a part-time primary sponsor this season for Top Fuel driver Leah Pritchett.

All three drivers race for DSR.

Here’s the official announcement:

U.S. ARMY REDIRECTING ITS MARKETING EFFORTS FOR 2019
BROWNSBURG, Ind. (July 8, 2018) – The U.S. Army has decided not to renew its sponsorship with Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) and the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) due to a reallocation of its marketing budget. DSR is actively pursuing a strong brand to partner with the team and its roster of sponsors and personalities who have contributed to 325 NHRA national event titles and 16 championships.
“The U.S. Army has been a great partner of Don Schumacher Racing for nearly two decades,” said team owner Don Schumacher. “It has been a mutually beneficial relationship with the U.S. Army instilling the mental, physical and emotional strength of the U.S. Army Soldier in all of us. We remain extremely proud of our representation of the U.S. Army and its brave Soldiers who are 100 percent committed to our country. We will continue to activate on behalf of the U.S. Army for the remainder of 2018 while showcasing our acumen to future partners looking to inject their brand with the power and precision that has earned DSR more than 320 wins and 16 championships.”
“The U.S. Army has been an incredibly loyal and longtime supporter of NHRA Championship Drag Racing and we are sad to see them go, especially during a time in which NHRA is experiencing so much success,” said NHRA president Glen Cromwell. “One of the most significant elements of our partnership with the U.S. Army has been its sponsorship of NHRA’s Youth and Education Services program, which hosts approximately 30,000 high school students each year across the country and will continue to do so. Not only does this program serve our communities by inspiring students to pursue STEM-related career opportunities, but it also acts as a powerful recruiting tool for vocational education programs.
“The NHRA Mello Yello Series reaches millions of fans each year at its 24 national events which are each broadcast on FOX Sports. We’ve had seven sellout days so far this season and all of our metrics are up. We are excited about NHRA’s future and look forward to welcoming new partners to our sport.”
The U.S. Army’s current commitments will remain through 2018.

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E
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Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.